How to Create a Crisis Marketing Strategy that Works For You
How to Create a Crisis Marketing Strategy that Works For You
It’s an understandably hectic time for people across all different industries, the Coronavirus pandemic has touched every corner of the globe and not left a single business unimpacted in some respect. Even for businesses who’ve closed their doors and furloughed their staff, there is a lot of behind the scenes work to be done to ensure those same doors can be opened up and ready for customers once the crisis has passed.
But putting aside the global scale for a moment, you need to stop, take time and focus – what is it your business should be doing right now? How should you be handling your marketing and business strategies in an unexpectedly insular climate?
Understanding Customer Needs
The first step you need to take when setting up your COVID-19 marketing strategy is to find out what customers are saying. Only by understanding how people are feeling and how they are reacting to current events can we truly gauge their sentiments.
However, it is possible to find out what customers want, need and are looking forward to the most. By being attuned to this and looking in the right places, or by seeking expert help from those who know where to look, you can plan an effective hotel marketing plan around your customers desires.
Your own social channels and USP are useful things to consider, what is it your customers miss about you? Is it your food? Your service? A particular facility? Whatever absence is making your customer’s hearts grow fonder may well represent a starting point for your new restaurant or hotel marketing plan.
In a nutshell scenario planning means preparing for every eventuality and being ready to adapt to any potential change in circumstances. When applied to marketing this means not only mapping out these hypothetical scenarios, but also how we communicate them to our customers while retaining our brand’s integrity. You may not be able to promise what you usually do; this could risk misleading your audience, but you need to still find a way of promoting your services despite the current challenge. Going silent isn’t an option.
This can be a tricky balance to get right, but there are things you can do to make it easier. A hotel, for example, cannot entice guests to visit during a time when social distancing is in effect. But it can tailor its message to reflect the present circumstances while offering customers something to look forward to.
How can this be applied to the present scenario? And if these measures continue for many more months what will you do as a business to adapt to that? After all, that represents the worst-case scenario while the best-case scenario is what we’d consider ‘business as usual’. Unfortunately, we’re still some time away from that; so every hotel needs to drill down and work this out. If you need help, then reach out to a specialist hotel marketing agency like us.
Nobody is expected to instantly know how to do effective scenario planning during an unprecedented period of time like this, but there are experts who help you put this in place.
Audit Marketing Activities to Optimise Your Budget
A marketing audit is an internal examination of your promotional activities and how much each costs. It can include your social media budget, PPC and any other money you spend on marketing either through traditional or digital channels. But it also includes the budget you allocate to marketing specific services. For example, a hotel may attract business guests to use its conference facilities and may allocate a significant amount of budget promoting this service.
A comprehensive marketing audit during a time of crisis such as now is essential and should mark the beginning of your COVID-19 marketing strategy. It doesn’t just involve examining how much money is spent on what, but does that budget continue to make sense during the current economic and social climate? Such audits are usually carried out once a year or every 6 months, but a pandemic may have rendered your last one void. After all, the social and economic landscape has changed since coronavirus caused hotels to close.
According to data from Coschedule; companies that routinely audit their marketing costs have a staggering 538% increased chance of successfully navigating the economic and social climate. This may well be the difference between keeping your hotel in business or folding under the strain of COVID-19.
Here’s what you can do, complete a full audit of what you spend money on when marketing your hotel and see where changes can be made. The priority isn’t making savings but seeing where else that budget can be spent more effectively. If you need help, contact a specialist hotel marketing agency who can either complete this audit for you, or show you how to conduct it effectively.
It’s crucial to consider your company image during this time and your content output. Companies that opt for an irreverent marketing approach need to consider what content could be deemed insensitive and adapt to something less risky. This is an aspect of every hotel marketing plan that largely goes ignored so don’t fall into that trap.
Also, go through any public listings you may appear on and update them to reflect the current situation. For example, if you’re a restaurant who’s still offering takeaway food make sure this is reflected in places it should be such as your social media channels, Google profile or website. Don’t risk losing custom due to disorganisation.
SEO and Social Media
It’s essential to include SEO and social media as part of your COVID-19 marketing strategy. In fact, at this point, they should make up the bulk of every restaurant and hotel marketing plan. That’s because due to people being at home web traffic is up a staggering 150% when compared to normal. Out of the brands who are taking advantage of this, 66% of them are reaping the rewards of this. If a company was to ever invest in SEO or social media marketing, right now is the time to do it.
This is because even though customers cannot visit hotels and restaurants at the moment, they can engage with their customers and continue to market to them. Businesses can still get their messages across and keep themselves in the forefront of their customer’s minds.
Let’s not forget that people currently spending more time at home than before and will be scanning social media periodically with more frequency than usual. They will be looking forward to the day when they can go out again too. This is another reason why SEO and social media marketing needs to be prioritised.
Many companies will have dialled back their SEO and social media spending when what they should be doing is investing in it more. SEO dictates how often your business is seen by prospective customers, and social media allows you to continue to engage with them despite social distancing measures. Take advantage of this now. If you don’t your competitors will.
Planning for a Recession
An unfortunate outcome of the coronavirus crisis is it’s likely to plunge the world into a recession, this is something all business leaders need to be aware of. Employment is down by 20% as a result of employers (understandably) tightening their belts to survive. This will have a knock-on effect on people everywhere regardless of the industry they work in.
Where a global recession is something we cannot control, what we can control is how we prepare and work through it. This way we limit the effect on us, but this means taking action now. Laying the foundations for success while we have time to do by planting seeds in our customer’s minds through an effective hotel marketing plan and doing so while we have a captive audience.
The good news is growth is inevitable too. As the world returns to normal more people will be making up for lost time and that means being liberal with their wallets, stimulating the industry, the economy and its recovery. Not only does a hotel need to factor the inevitable recession into their COVID-19 marketing strategy, but also how they plan on recovering from it. Developing a strategy is the key to getting through this and that may mean investing in quality marketing now.